Puppy Training, 6 Things Never to Do with Your Puppy

Puppies are adorable — let’s face it. And that means that, no matter how well intentioned you are about your puppy training, you may be tempted to indulge in some of these seemingly cute (at first) behaviours. The problem is that, in order to train your puppy successfully, you must be consistent! That is key.

Your puppy isn’t going to understand that it’s okay to beg adorably at the table to amuse a guest but that it’s not okay any other time. If you are inconsistent in your messages about what is and isn’t allowed, your dog is going to become anxious, confused and stressed. And that is not a happy, contented dog. And if your puppy is stressed, you’re going to be stressed.

So let’s discuss six important things you should never do with your puppy.

  1. Never feed your puppy titbits from the table or your plate. Ideally, any scraps that are safe for her to eat should be placed in her bowl after you are finished eating or, at the very least, on the floor. Feeding from the table encourages begging (which might look cute in a puppy but will be extremely irritating when your dog is older). It can even encourage larger dogs to reach up and steal food right from the table. And don’t permit your puppy to snatch food from anyone’s hands. Treats should not be given unless the dog is sitting quietly and patiently—make her earn that reward. That’s good puppy training. Additionally, snatching food can be particularly dangerous with children around.
  2. Never engage in tug-of-war or chewing games with your puppy. As adorable as it might appear, tug-of-war is instinctively competitive and will encourage aggression in your dog. Some dogs may even develop a greater tendency to bite as a result. Don’t permit him to tug on your clothes, either. Some puppies will grab onto your pant leg, sock, shoelaces, etc., in order to play tug. This can knock a small child off balance and cause them to suffer serious injury. Permitting him to chew on an old sock or shoe won’t work either. He can’t differentiate between what shoes and socks are okay and what are off limits so avoid this altogether. Instead, give him a specific rawhide or toy for chewing.
  3. Dogs that have not been trained to walk correctly on a leash (or without) will try to take the lead in walks by darting out in front. Don’t let your puppy ever walk through gates, doorways, etc., ahead of you. You are the leader and she must show you the respect and deference this role commands but, aside from being good puppy training, it’s also for her own safety — you need to be out in front to ensure it’s safe before she follows. (This is particularly important if you live in a high traffic or relatively dangerous area.) A dog’s natural instinct is to wait for the leader to lead her out. Use this to your advantage. Also, don’t let her lie in front of or otherwise block doors and other entrances. That can lead to more aggressive behaviour later on.
  4. Don’t try to train your dog to walk obediently off the leash until he has first mastered doing it on the leash. A tug on the leash is how you will ensure your dog is focused on you when you give him a command. Trying to get him to focus on you when he’s free to trot or run away is a lot more difficult than if he’s tied to your side. And you don’t want to put yourself in the position of having to run after him if danger approaches because, unless he’s already well trained to come at your call, he’ll think he’s going in the right direction (away from you) and continue, thinking you’re just following him.
  5. Don’t let her sleep on your lap, bed, chair or couch. This is a particularly tempting thing to permit when a puppy is tiny, but it encourages dominance because the dog thinks she is equal to or superior to you because she sits on or at the same level as you. Not only that but what’s cute in a puppy may not be so cute when it’s a full grown Great Dane who feels entitled to continue sleeping on your bed and is indifferent to you. Consistency is key in proper puppy training. Make sure your dog always sleeps on the floor or at a level lower than you do right from the start.
  6. Don’t make your puppy the centre of attention by lavishing affection and rewards on him that he hasn’t earned. It’s called spoiling when it’s done with children, and you don’t want to raise a spoiled dog that constantly demands to be the focus of everyone, regardless of the situation. If you want to pat your puppy, make sure you give him a command to obey, like “Sit” or “Come”; then you can give him a pat or praise.

Avoiding these six common mistakes that puppy owners make when puppy training will ensure that you have a dog who is well behaved and a joy to be around. You’ll be the envy of all the other dog owners around!


I'm a professional dog trainer who is sharing my journey as I transition to positive reinforcement based dog training methods.

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